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3^ %; 



EFFECTS OF TURBIDITY ON 

FISH AND FISHING 



By 
D. HO^/ER BUCK 

A two-y?jc' STLciy sp::ns';'*d by 

OUTBOARD BOATING CLUE OF AMERICA 
OKLAHOMA GAME AND FISH DEPARTMEr^:T 

SPORT FISHING INSTITUTE 

Cooperating agencies 

OKLAHOMA A. AND M. COLLEGE 
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA 
CITY OF TULSA WATEF' DEPARTMENT 
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS : 



OKLAHOMA FISHERIES RESEARCH LABOFATORY 
REPORT NUMBER 56 

MARCH, 1356 
NORMAN, OKLAHOMA 



' ♦ 






THE OKLAHOMA FISHERIES RESEARCH LABORATORY 
Robert M„ Jenkins, Director 



SUPPORTING AGENCIES ^ ■ '' 

The Oklahoma Game and Fish Department 
and 
The University of Oklahoma Biological Survey 

ADVISORY COMMITTEE 

George Lo Cross, President, University of Oklahoma 

John E. King, Chief, Fisheries Division, Oklahoma Game and 

Fish Department 
Carl Da Riggs, Director, University of Oklahoma Biological Survey 
Laurence H. Snyder, Director of Organized Research, University 

of Oklahoma 
Mutt Standefer, Assistant Director, Oklahoma Game and Fish 

Department 
Dave Ware, Director, Oklahoma Game and Fish Department 



ii 

Table of Contents 

Page 

Introduction. . , : . , 1 

Methods and Procedures 3 

Farm Pond Studies 6 

Selection and description , 6 

Stocking. ...,-....., , 8 

Sampling. . . « » , .> , , 8 

Total yield, 10 

Growth of f i shes , 14 

Spavming success , ,....,,,... 19 

Plankton production 25 

Hatchery Pond Experiments 25 

Methods and procedures 27 

Findings .,, , 32 

Reservoir Studies. .. . ., , 39 

Largemouth bass. 41 

Crappies 43 

Catfishes, 46 

Population estimates 48 

Plankton production 52 

Fishing success 52 

Discussion. ..,...<, 54 

Summary, ., 56 

Bibliography 59 

A summary of this study was presented by Dr. Buck at the 21st North American 
Wildlife Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 5, 1956. 



iii 



Acknowledgements 

This was a cooperative project of the Outboard Boating Club of America, 
the Oklahoma Game and Fish Department, and the Sport Fishing Institute. The 
need for such a study was first expressed by the Sport Fishing Institute. 
Initial impetus was provided by a grant of SlO,OOOoOO from the Outboard 
Boating Cliib and its spxDnsoring boat and motor industries. Acting as interme- 
diary, the Sport Fishing Institute gained the cooperation of the Oklahoma 
Game and Fish Department, which agreed to contribute additional financial 
support and to supervise the investigation. The author was placed in the 
employ of the Fisheries Division, Oklahoma Game and Fish Department, with 
the Spor.t Fishing Institute continuing in an advisory capacity. 

For their generous cooperation, particular thanks are due to E. M. 
Leonard and Gordon E. Hall, both former Directors, and to John E. King, 
present Director of the Fisheries Division, Oklahoma Game and Fish Depart- 
ment; to Robert M. Jenkins, Director, and associates Joe Finnell and Ronald 
Elkin of the Oklahoma Fisheries Research Laboratory; to H. C. Clemens and 
Carl D, Riggs of the University of Oklahoma; to Robert E. Hunter and W. H. 
Thompson, of the Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District; to J» v;. Costilow and 
Sam W, Jackson, Jr., of the City of Tulsa, with special thanks to the latter 
for use of unpublished data from Upper Spavinaw Reservoir; to Oo E. Orr for 
use of unpxiblished Heyburn Reservoir data; to Glenn Jones, A. W. Hill and 
Farrell Copelin for assistance in the field. Finally, special recognition 
is due Frank J. Claffey for use of unpublished plankton and light penetration 
data, and to W. H. Irwin, of Oklahoma A. and M. College, for his many highly 
valued contributions to the study. 



EFFECTS OF TURBIDITY ON FISH AND FISHING 
D. Homer Buck 

INTRODUCTION 

The role of soP srosion in land management has been well documented= 
Its influence on the productivity of our inland waters has received relatively 
little attentionc While it is widely recognized that turbidities caused by 
erosion silt are generally harmful to the aquatic community, little quantita- 
tive data exists as to its effects on fish growth and reproduction, basic 
food production, and fishing successo The purpose of this investigation has 
been to categorize and measure some of the influences of erosion silt on 
fish and fishing in ponds and reservoirs of Oklahoma, 

Various phases of the turbidity problem have received previous at- 
tention in Oklahoma o Irwin (1945-1948), and Irwin and Stevenson (1951) 
described the nature and cause of turbidities in central Oklahoma and 
presented methods for clarification of turbid waters, Wallen (1951) studied 
the direct effects of clay turbidities on fishes in terms of lethal concen- 
trations and concluded that the direct effect of clay turbidity is not a 
lethal factor at concentrations found in Nature » In a study of the effects 
of turbidity on bottom fauna, Hambric (1953) found that clear ponds pro- 
duced greater numbers of bottom organisms but that volumes in turbid ponds 
were often greater due to an abundance of the large naiads of a species of 
mayfly, Hexagenia limbata p Moore (1944, 1951) has studied the rather re- 
markable adaptations of certain minnows for survival in muddy waters of the 



■2- 



Great Plains Regiono Aldrich (1949), liall (1952), Jenkins and Hall (1953), 
Hall, Jenkins and Finnell (1954), and Finnell and Jenkins (1954) have em- 
phasized the general unsuitability of turbid waters for efficient fish 
production, and in their most recent writings, Jenkins, Hall, Finnell, 
et al . have called special attention to the retarding influence of turbid 
waters on growth of largemouth bass, white and black crappies, and channel 
catfisho 

Elsewhere the turbidity problem has been considered from a variety 
of viewpoints. A few investigators have concluded that certain fishes 
spawn more successfully in turbid waters and that turbidity affords pro- 
tection and, in some instances, food to young of fishes (Ward, 1938; Doan, 
1941, 1942; Lagler and Ricker, 1942; Chandler, 1942; Van Oosten, 1948). 
Others have noted that high turbidities cause loss of eggs or nests, and 
severely limit or eliminate spawning activities in some areas (Ellis, 1937; 
Shapavalov, 1937; Ward, 1938; Smith, 1940; Sumner and Smith, 1940; Langlois, 
1941; Elder and Lewis, 1955). In Illinois, Bennett, Thompson and Parr 
(1940) noted that fishing success depended upon transparency of the water, 
and that as turbidity decreased, rate of catch increased. Bennett (1943) 
further observed that successful bass populations were associated with 
clear waters, and that less desirable species tended to predominate in 
turbid waters. Swingle (personal communication) has observed in a large 
number of Alabama ponds that heavy silt loads during the spawning season 
prevent the successful reproduction of largemouth bass. Burress (personal 
communication) has observed in Missouri that largemouth bass spawn more 
successfully and make more rapid growths in clear than in muddy ponds. 
Several authors have observed that turbidity effects a loss in fish pro- 



duction but have given no turbidity readings (Smith, 1940j Chandler, 1942a; 
Swingle, 1949; Fessler, 1950; and numerous others) o There is, in fact, a 
notable paucity of data relating fish growth and reproduction to measured 
turbidities o The only known record was made in an early work by Schneberger 
and Jewell (1928) in studying factors affecting pond fish production in 
Kansas. They observed that, other things being equal, the fish production 
in ponds was directly related to clearness of the water for turbidities 
above 100 ppm, but that other factors become more influential at lesser 
turbidities. 

Various writers have noted the effects of turbidity and siltation 
on lesser aquatic organisms. Some assert that turbidity and associated 
sedimentation often limit the production of algae, as well as higher aquatic 
plants (Chandler, 1940, 1942a, 1944; Meyer and Heritage, 1941; Langlois, 1941, 
1945; Chandler and Weeks, 1945; Moen, 1947). Others credit the same pro- 
cesses with eliminating many bottom organisms important as fish food (Ellis, 
1936, 1937, 1944; Sumner and Smith, 1940; Smith, 1940; Munns, 1948; Hambric, 
1953). Perhaps the widest attention has been given to the effects of tur- 
bidity in excluding light from the aquatic environment and the critical 
limitations thereby imposed on aquatic organisms (Ellis, 1931, 1936, 1937, 
1944; Welch, 1935; Chandler, 1940, 1942a, 1942b, 1944; Doan, 1942; Shaw 
and Maga, 1943; Meyer, Bell Thompson and Clay, 1943; Chandler and Weeks, 
1945; Irwin, 1945, 1948; Moen, 1947; Munns, 1948; Aldrich, 1949; Hall, 
1952; Berner, 1951; Hambric, 1953; Claffey, 1955). 

METHODS AND PROCEDURES 

The present problem was studied in farm ponds, in partially controlled 



-4- 

hatchery ponds, and in l arge reservoiti s. This was a two-year project, 
initiated in January, 1954, and terminated December 31, 1955. The spring 
and fall months were devoted primarily to the farm ponds the first year and 
to both the farm and hatchery ponds the second year. Both summers were 
largely devoted to the reservoir studies. 

A selected series of 39 farm pond s was rotenoned and restocked in the 
spring of 1954. Turbidity and plankton samples were taken throughout the 
tText two growing seasons. The fish populations were sampled at the end of 
each growing season. These experiments provided information on growth, re- 
production, and total production of fish, and on production of basic fish 
foods in waters having a wide range of natural soil turbidities. 

The hatchery pond experiments were initiated in the spring of 1955. 
This project involved artificially created turbidities in small, controlled 
ponds from which the fish populations could be recovered by draining. Four- 
teen ponds were used,* Six were kept turbid by the periodic addition of a 
native clay and small amounts of sodium silicate solution (common Water 
Glass), which served as a dispersing agent. A second six ponds were kept 
turbid by adult carp, and four ponds were left untreated as controls, 
although only the results from two proved usable. All ponds were stocked 
with equal numbers of largemouth bass, bluegills and channel catfish. 

The studies of the two large r eservoi rs, one muddy, the other clear, 
were made in order to measure some of the effects of turbidity on natural, 
uncontrolled populations in larger bodies of water. Points of comparison 
were fish growth and reproduction, relative abundance of important species. 



♦Originally 16 were used, but two control ponds were dropped because of 
contamination by trash fishes and because of their small size. 



-5- 



basic food production, and fishing success., 

Turbidities were measured by the Jackson Turbidimeter which makes no 
determinations low^r than 25 ppm. For the purpose of computing average 
turbidities for those ponds which ranged above and below the 25 ppm level, 
an arbitrary value of 15 ppm was substituted in the calculations for all 
readings of "less than 25 ppm." 

Plankton referred to are net plankton collected with a Wisconsin 
type net made up with No. 25 mesh silk bolting cloth. Plankton counts 
were made by use of the Sedgwick-Rafter counting cells Volumetric measure- 
ments were made by centrifuging the plankton concentrates from 30 liter 
samples at 3000 RPM for two minutes. 

All fish lengths were recorded in inches and tenths and all weights 
in pounds and hundredths of pounds. All lengths used herein refer to total 
lengths. 

Final population estimates in the farm ponds were computed from the 
percentage of marked fish recovered following treatment by rotenone. Fish 
were ordinarily marked one or two days previous to the rotenone treatment. 
The marking technique used was to remove a small section of the upper lobe 
of the caudal fin» Bass of all sizes were marked, but it was found im- 
practical to mark sunfishes less than 3 inches in length. The smallest 
bass were mostly longer than 3 inches, but on one occasion bass as small 
as l.,9 inches were successfully marked and recovered. Numbers and weights 
of small, unmarked bluegill and redear were estimated by collecting all 
fish for as many days as they continued to appear (7 days in some instances) 
and multiplying the totals by three. The multiple of three was chosen on 
the basis of returns from a marking experiment made in one small pond and 



on the basis of past observations of the author and associates. The totals 
thus derived are believed conservative. While they cannot be presented as 
completely accurate determinations, they are believed sufficiently reliable 
for comparative purposes. 

FARM POND STUDIES 

Selection and Description of Ponds 

All ponds used were typical farm or ranch ponds, most of which were 
built for stock-watering purposes. Cooperation and interest of the land- 
owners, as weli as size and other physical characteristics of the ponds 
were considerations in theit selection. Clear ponds are rare in central 
Oklahoma, and the use >jf an airplane saved much time. Once a iclear pond 
was located from the air it was relatively simple to match it with a muddy 
pond in the same watershed. Ideal situations were those in which two ponds 
were located in the same drainage, one immediately above the other. Such 
upper ponds served as settling basins and were almost invariably muddy, 
while the lower ponds were usually clear. Single ponds without settling 
basins were seldom clear except when located in well-grassed pastures 
having an efficient means of runoff control. 

A total of 39 ponds were selected for study. Sixteen were located 
in Cleveland County, 23 in Payne County, approximately 70 miles north 
and slightly east of the Cleveland Coxinty area. Land use, soils, and 
sxibstrates of the areas are very similar, both underlain by Permian red 
beds, with surface soils containing much colloidal clay. Sizes of ponds 
used and other physical characteristics are presented in Table 1. 



Table 1. Turbidities in parts per million, transparencies in inches (Secchi 
Disc) J size and depths of farm ponds used. 

















Depths i 


n feet 


Pond Name of 


Turbidities^- 


Average 


Size 


Average 


Maximum 


no. 


pond 


Average range 


transpar- 
encies^ 


in 














acres 






1 


Leach No„ 1 


-25 


(-25to-25) 


44 


3 


1,1 


6,0 


10.0 


2 


Petty 


" 


( " to 65) 


42 


3 


2.0 


6.0 


12.0 


3 


Osborne No. 3 


" 


( " to 42) 


41 


2 


1,0 


5.0 


7.0 


4 


Nelson 


" 


( " to-25) 


38 


6 


0.7 


3.0 


7.0 


5 


Village 


" 


( " to 60) 


37 





lc9 


5.0 


10.5 


6 


Preston No, 1 


" 


( " to 80) 


31 


2 


1.3 


5.0 


11.0 


7 


Newsom No. 1 


w 


( " to 60) 


30 


5 


1.5 


6.0 


12,0 


8 


Berry Noo 1 


" 


( " to 138) 


27 





0.8 


2.5 


4.0 


9 


Newsom Noo 2 


" 


( " to 70) 


25 


6 


1.9 


5.0 


10.0 


10 


Osborne No. 1 


" 


( " to 105) 


20 


7 


1.0 


2.8 


5.5 


11 


Miller No. 1 


" 


( " to 60) 


20 





0.8 


3,7 


7.0 


12 


Fisher No. 1 


" 


( " to 100) 


14 





2.0 


3.0 


6.0 


13 


Andrews No, 1 


45 


(-25to 90) 






2.3 


4.0 


9.0 


14 


Schachle 


46 


( " to 90) 






0.9 


4,5 


8.5 


15 


Law 


50 


( " to 120) 






1.1 


1.8 


3.0 


16 


Berry No. 2 


58 


( " to 160) 






0.9 


2.0 


4.5 


17 


Smith 


64 


( " to 190) 






0.5 


3.5 


6.0 


18 


Leach No. 2 


71 


( " to 150) 






0.4 


2.0 


4.0 


19 


Allred No. 3 


76 


( " to 280) 






0,8 


3.0 


7.0 


20 


Ross 


83 


( 37to 330) 






1.0 


3.0 


6.0 


21 


Andrews No. 2 


86 


(29 to 163) 






1.5 


2.0 


4.5 


22 


Glass 


94 


(28 to 250) 






1»9 


3.0 


7.0 


23 


Fisher No. 2 


99 


(-25to 300) 






0„9 


3,0 


6.0 


24 


Miller No. 2 


100 


(-25to 475) 






0.8 


3.8 


6,8 


25 


Hansmeyer No. 1 


107 


(65 to 177) 






0.4 


1.7 


3.0 


26 


Allred Noo 4 


122 


(64 to 226) 






1.1 


3.0 


7.0 


27 


Allred No. 1 


132 


(75 to 232) 






0.5 


3,5 


7.0 


28 


Marler 


148 


(llOto 280) 






1.1 


1.8 


4.0 


29 


Preston No. 2 


185 


(73 to 350) 






1,2 


3.0 


7,0 


30 


Metzger 


203 


(27 to 625) 






1.8 


2,5 


5,0 


31 


Hansmeyer No. 2 


239 


(64 to 875) 






0,9 


2,0 


3.5 


32 


Moroney 


339 


(90 to 1500) 






1.1 


2.2 


4.5 


33 


Osborne No. 2 


388 


(62 to 800) 






0,9 


2.0 


4.0 



1 Represent readings through two years for all ponds except Nos. 1, 
and 33, which were immt used in 1955, 

2 Represent averages through 1954 only. 



10, 15, 25 



-8- 

Stockinq the Farm Ponds 

Ponds were rotenoned in March and April, 1954, to remove existing 
fish populations. The usual treatment was 1,5 ppm of Derris povkder(5% 
rotenone), and later sampling indicated a high percentage of complete kills. 

Fish for stocking the ponds were obtained from the State Fish Hatchery 
'kt Durant, Oklahoma . The Cleveland County ponds were stocked on May 12, 1954, 
using 100 largemouth bass and 100 redear sunfish each, per surface acre. The 
Payne County ponds were stocked on May 19 using the same ratio except that 
some ponds received bluegills instead of redear. Bass and redear were all 
one year old fish, the bluegills were slightly larger and contained both 
one and two-year-old individuals. The average weights of fish stocked in 
various ponds are shown in Table 4. 
Sampling the Farm Pond Fish Populations . 

The first sampling of the fish populations was made between September 
6 and October 16, 1954, The purpose was to determine rates of growth and 
spawning success. This was accomplished chiefly by use of seines and 
electro-fishing gear, but one pond was rotenoned when other methods proved 
ineffective. Efforts were made to recover at least 10 per cent of the 
original number stocked. Fish were held at pondside in tanks with portable 
oxygen equipment until a sufficiently large sample was obtained, and the 
fish were then immobilized with urethane so that they could be accurately 
weighed and measured and returned to the water as rapidly as possible. The 
procedure proved very satisfactory, and left the populations intact for 
future study. 

The fish were again left undisturbed until the following fall. In this 
final examination efforts were made to obtain complete population estimates 



whenever possible. Fourteen ponds were rotenoned after portions of the pop- 
ulation had been markedo Six additional ponds were sufficiently seinable to 
provide some usable population data, although no accurate estimates of the 
small (less than 3o0 inches in length) unmarked fish could be obtained in this 
way. Niombers of the larger marked fish were computed from the proportions 
of marked fish obtained by repeated seining efforts in the manner proposed 
by Schnabel (1938)= The remaining 8 ponds could not be rotenoned because 
of lack of permission of the pondowners and could not be seined efficiently 
enough to allow a population estimate = In most cases, however, the seines 
and electric gear provided adequate samples for determination of growth rates 
and the occurrence or non-occurrence of reproductiono 

Results for the two separate years are presented more or less concurrently^ 
Usuable data were collected from 33 ponds the first year, and from 28 the 
secondo Five of the original 39 ponds went dry, or nearly so| two became 
badly contaminated by trash fish| two were renovated by the owner; one was 
found to have been improperly stocked? and one had been rotenoned at the end 
of the first year„ Most ponds had slightly higher turbidities during the 
second year due to a greater rainfall and larger runnoff, but in only two 
ponds was the difference large » For most purposes the average turbidities 
assigned to the ponds represents a simple average of all readings taken over 
the two-year period of study., These included an average of 9 readings (8 for 
some ponds, 10 for others) taken at regular intervals from May to October in 
1954, and 8 readings taken from Iferch through August in 1955. For those 
ponds from which data were collected only in 1954, the turbidities assigned 
of course represent an average for only the single year. 



-10- 

FINDINGS FROM TIE FARM PONDS 

Relation of Turbidity to Total Yield 

Turbidity was found to have a definite relation to total production of 
fishes. The clear ponds yielded not only a much greater weight of fishes 
but also greater numbers of large fishes. This presentation is limited to 
those ponds for which total population estimates were made at the end of the 
second growing season. Production figures for individual ponds are presented 
in Table 2 together with the weights and percentages of separate components 
of the populations. The correlation between yield in pounds of fish per acre 
and turbidity was -0.762, which was significant at the .01 level. The re- 
gression of yield on turbidity was P = 142.1 -0.502A, where P = pounds of 
fish per acre and A = average turbidity in parts per million. 

By way of further analysis, the 12 ponds were separated into the following 
three classifications of turbidity: 1) clear ponds, with average turbidities 
of less than 25 ppm; 2) intermediate ponds, with a range of turbidities from 
25 to 100 ppfti; and 3) muddy ponds, with turbidities in excess of 100 ppm. It 
may be seen in Table 2, and graphically in Figure 1, that the average total 
weight of fishes in the clear ponds was 161.5 poxinds per acre, as compared 
with 94 in the intermediate and only 29.3 in the muddy ponds. The differences 
were due to faster growths made in the clearer waters and to the vastly greater 
amoiints of reproduction in the clear ponds, particularly by the bluegill and 
redear sunfish. 

Estimates were also made of the numbers and weights of the different 
sizes of fish produced in the three categories of ponds. Table 3 shows that 
for bass of desirable length (10 inches or longer), the muddy ponds yielded 



-11- 





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- ! SUNFISH 
\ 75.27 


INTERMEDIATE 


5 












O 


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^ 
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60 


" 










40 


- 






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MUDDY 




ADULT 

SUNFISH 

737^ 




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12.6 r 






YOUNG 
BASS 
7.07- 


20 


47.4^" 




ADULT 
BASS 
10.57' 


19.8/^ 




Ai)% 





36.0/^ 



Figure 1= Average estimated total weights and compxjsitions of fish populations in 
four clear, four intermediate and four muddy ponds at end of second growing season. 
Fish classed as adults indicate surviving original stock; fish classed as young 
indicate combined reproduction for both years. Bluegill and redear sunfish are 
combined as sunfish; four ponds containing bluegill, eight redear sunfish. 



-13- 



only a small fraction of the weight of desirable bass produced in the clear 
and intermediate ponds. The intermediate ponds yielded more bass over 10 
inches (although their average length was less) than the clear ponds , which 

'"'''^ra.'S believed due to the fact that a greater number of large bass were caught 
by anglers from the clear than from the intermediate ponds.* The small weight 
of desirable bass from the muddy ponds reflects the fact that few individuals 
in these ponds ever attained the 10-inch length, with most of the original 
stock still within tha 6-10 inch length range. The greater weight of 6 to 
10-inch bass in the clear than in the intermediate ponds is due largely to 
the faster growth made by young bass in the clear ponds„ This pioduction 
was more than balanced,, however^ by a greater yield of small bass ( less than 
6o0 inches) in the intermediate ponds so that total weights (all sizes com- 
bined) of bass were somewhat greater in intermediate ponds than in clear 
ponds. This is attributed to the varying rates of competition from the blue- 

■ *^lls or redears since the weights of the companion sunfishes were more than 
twice as great in the clear than in the intermediate ponds. The extremely 
poor production of bass in the muddy ponds must be attributed directly to 
turbidity, since yields of all species were uniformly low from these ponds „ 

Comparisons of the weights of sunfishes also shows a notably smaller 
production in the muddy than in the clearer pondso The most significant 
comparisons are between the fishes of the two smaller size ranges, since 
the populations of larger fishes were again influenced by angling pressure 
as well as by mortality and intraspecif ic competition (this will be dis- 
cussed more fully in the following section). The greater weight of bluegills 



* Fishing was discouraged, but it was impossible to control o The fishing occurred 
-thiring the second summer, and it is known that rather large numbers of adult bass 
were caught from all four clear ponds and two intermediate ponds, and that bluegills 
were caught from at least two of the clear ponds cited above. 



-14- 

than redears in the 3 to 6 inch range (Table 3) is believed to have no sign- 
ificance beyond the fact that the bluegills were larger and older than the 
redears when stocked and therefore capable of greater initial spawning 
activity in 1954., 

Relation of Turbidity to Growth of Fishes 

Growth of bass was most notably affected by the turbid conditions. 
Effects on growth of redears and bluegills were consistent, but less pro- 
nounced, and intraspecific competition in some instances appeared more in- 
fluential on growth of sunfishes than turbidityo 

Growth data are presented from 33 ponds for the first year, and from 
28 for the secondo Unless otherwise stated, the growths presented refer to 
growth increments made by individuals of the original plant of fishes and 
not to that of their progeny. The data are presented on the basis of average 
turbidities, employing the same categories of clear, intermediate and muddy 
ponds. Table 4 compares the average turbidities, with the average weight 
increments made by individual fish at the end of each of the two growing 
seasons. In order to consolidate the presentation, weighted averages were 
computed for the length and weight increments made in the three categories 
of ponds and the comparisons presented graphically in Figure 2. By the end 
of the first growing season the bass in the clear ponds had increased their 
individual weights approximately 6.4 times, those in the intermediate approx- 
imately 4 times, and those in the muddy ponds only 1.26 times. Corresponding 
growths in inches were 4.5 for the clear, 3.4 in the intermediate, and 1.5 
in the muddy ponds. By the end of the second growing season the original 
bass in the clear ponds had increased their average weight approximately 14 



-15- 



o o. 






a- 

•H +1 

31 



2tj 



rH 

pq 


c 
o 


lO <£> 

CD 


ID (0 
0) 

o x: 

-M O 
CO -M 


CD 


11 

<D O 


CO pH 
■H 






CD (Nl CO 
O CO 


n 

§ 
M 

(0 


to -H 


CD CT) C- 
rH r-l 


11 

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in o to 
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n 


Clear 

Inter- 
mediate 

Muddy 



-16- 






1 












1 






1 










■ — ' 








o 






^ 

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2 d 

d 



-17- 



Table 4. Average weight gains by individual fish from samples obtained at end 
of first growing season (1) and second growing season (2) in farm 
ponds, compared with average turbidities o 











Averaae weight gain in hundredths of pounds 










Largemouth, ba 


ss 


.111^ 


Redec 
Oo023^ 


ir sunfish 


Blufigi;i 






0.040-^ 


0o063-^ 





0=034^ 


= 


058"^ 


Pond 


Average 


Year 


Year 


Year Year 


Year 


Year 


Year Year 


Year Year 


Year 


Year 


no. 


turbidity 


(1) 


(2) 


(1) (2) 


.(1J_ 


(2) 


(1) (2) 


(1) (2) 


(1) 


(2) 


1 


-25 








= 42 








= 17 




2 


n 






=57 1=55 






=23 =24 








3 


I) 






=53 1,44 






=15 =23 








4 


11 








= 35 


= 63 






= 19 


.18 


5 


IS 


o67 


2„06 










=13 =15 






6 


w 








= 37 


= 83 






= 18 


= 19 


7 


« 


o47 


1.07 










=16 .19 






8 


w 








= 43 


= 50 






= 20 


.19 


9 


II 


o29 


= 42 










c08 .13 






10 


s, 






= 35 — 






= 12 — 








11 


" 






=67 1=19 






=10 =15 








12 


It 


o35 


= 53 










.11 .20 






13 


45 


„46 












.12 =19 






14 


46 






=42 lo08 






=10 =17 








15 


50 


o37 


___ 








,09 — 








16 


58 








= 26 


= 72 






= 09 


= 16 


17 


64 


ol7 


,50 








=09 ol9 








18 


71 








o31 


= 94 




.21 =33 






19 


76 








.22 


= 40 




=10 =21 






20 


83 








.40 


__= 






= 18 


.29 


21 


86 


»38 


,77 










=11 =15 






22 


94 


= 20 


o68 










=06 =17 






23 


99 






=12 =14 










= 08 


= 11 


24 


100 






=39 =43 






=13 =22 








25 


107 






= 17 — 






= 09 — 








26 


122 








= 03 


= 24 






= 08 


.25 


27 


132 








= 02 


= 07 




=05 =12 






28 


148 






.20 .38 






=08 =21 








29 


185 








= 06 


= 28 






= 07 


.24 


30 


203 


o09 


ol4 










= 04 






31 


239 






=13 o22 






=09 .15 








32 


339 






=05 =07 






=10 =12 








33 


388 






„10 — 






= 03 — 









1 These numbers denote average vreight (in hundredths of pounds) of fish when stocked. 



-18- 

times, those in the intermediate 7.1, and those in the muddy 2=5 times. 
Growths in inches averaged 6.9, 5.1, and 2,4 respectively. The trend of 
the first year was consistent through the second year, with turbidity re- 
maining a dominant influence. 

The first year's results for bluegills and redears were consistent with 
those for bass, but intraspecif ic competition and mortality had a marked in- 
fluence on growth data for sunfishes obtained at the end of the second season. 
Figure 2 shows that first-year growth for both species decreased directly 
as turbidity increased but that at the end of the second year the adults re- 
covered from the turbid ponds were as large or larger than those recovered 
from the clear ponds. The apparent inconsistency is explained by (1) mor- 
tality and/or removal by anglers during the second growing season of the 
faster-growing individuals in the clear ponds and (2) by intraspecif ic com- 
pietition, since the rate of reproduction and size of population was also 
directly proportional to clarity of the waters. That the faster growing adults 
had died or been removed from the clearer ponds became apparent when the 
average size of adults recovered at the end of the second growing season were 
little different, and in one instance smaller, than the average size com- 
puted from samples obtained at the end of the first growing season. This was 
apparent only in the clearer ponds, however, and particularly so in the blue- 
gill populations (last column, table 4). The influence of intraspecif ic 
competition was apparent in both redear and bluegill populations, but part- 
icularly so in the latter. The sunfishes in the clear ponds made signi- 
ficantly greater growths during the first year when populations were compar- 
atively small, but tended to lose this advantage during the second season 
due to the greater abundance of young in the clearer ponds. 



-19- 

Pond Noo 29 may be used in illustration„ This was the most turbid pond 
(average turbidity; 185 ppnri) in which bluegills were stocked and produced the 
poorest first-year growth of all bluegill ponds = However, Pond 29 also had the 
poorest reproduction rate among the bluegill pondSo The estimated total weight 
(10.9 pounds) of young (both 1954 and 1955 spawn combined) was considerably 
less than the weight of the surviving adults (17.4 pounds) » It follows that 
the few adults in this pond enjoyed less competition than bluegills in any 
other pond during the second growing season and increased their average weight 
from a ranking of last at the end of the first year to a ranking of second 
highest at the end of the second year,, The influences of turbidity are there- 
fore more clearly pictured by comparative growths made during the first year 
when all populations were comparatively small o Certainly turbidity was 
equally restrictive during the second season^ but the effects were masked 
by other factors „ 

Relation of Turbidity to Spawning Success 

As indicated previously, turbidity had a marked influence on reproduction. 
Occurrence or non-occurrence was based on returns from the fall samplings » A 
high degree of confidence was placed in the returns since the turbid ponds 
from which no young were recovered were in most cases the shallowest, the 
freest from vegetation, and the least difficult to seine and particularly 
because second-year returns agreed in all instances with those from the first 
year. At the end of the first summer, young bass were found in 7 of 12 clear 
ponds, four of 12 intermediate ponds, and in of 9 muddy ponds = The most 
turbid pond from which young bass were recovered in 1954 averaged 84 ppm. 
Redears indicate a greater tolerance than bass, spawning successfully in 8 
of 9 clear ponds, 9 of 9 intermediate ponds, and in 1 of 7 muddy ponds in 



-20- 



which they were used. The highest turbidity from which young redears were 
recovered averaged 174 ppm through 1954. The older and larger bluegills 
spawned successfully in all nine ponds in which they were stocked, including 
two ponds having turbidities of 124 and 185 ppm. ^- 

There was some question at the end of the first year as to whether tur- 
bidity had directly prevented successful spawning or whether the turbidity and 
associated conditions had retarded growth and development of the fish to the 
extent that they were physically incapable of repfSduction. Evidence gained 

^ during the second season seems to support the latter supposition in part. 
The returns show that in 1954 bass reproduction was found in only 4 of 12 
intermediate ponds but that all 11 ponds of this group still in use produced 
young bass in 1955. Among the muddy ponds reproduction was foiind in of 9 
in 1954, but young bass were recovered from 3 of the 7 ponds still in use 
through 1955. Redears spavmed successfully in two muddy ponds in 1955 in 
which they had failed to produce in 1954 but had still produced no young in 
two of the muddy ponds by the end of the second year. It is highly doubtful 
that these redears could have spawned successfully in any subsequent year 
under the same pond conditions since they had now lived through three growing 
seasons and had attained average lengths of 6 inches or greater. There seems 
less reason to expect that the bass could have spawned in the most turbid 
ponds in subsequent years since they seemed more severely limited by tur- 
bidity than the redears. The best interpretation would seem to be that within 
some of the intermediate ponds reproduction was merely delayed one year through 

y/ retardation of growth and development of the parent fishes but that conditions 

were such in some of the muddy ponds that successful reproduction was not possible. 
It was of further interest to note the relation of size-of-bass-when-planted 



-21- 

to subsequent spawning success. The author entertained some doubt that the 
bass would reproduce during the first year since they were stocked rather 
late in the spawning season (May 12 and 19) and at sizes considered near or 
below the minim\im at which bass can successfully reproduce, Bass of three 
sizes were used, all of which were one year old. In the group averaging 4,9 
inches, the range was 4„1 to 6.1 inches. This size was stocked in four clear, 
in three intermediate, and in one muddy ponds. No reproduction was found in 
any of these at the end of the first year. In the size group averaging 5.4 
inches, the range was 4.9 to 6.5 inches. Reproduction was found in 3 of 4 
clear ponds, 1 of 4 intermediate ponds, and in of 5 muddy ponds in which 
this size was stocked. In the group averaging 6,6 inches, none of the bass 
was longer than 7,6 inches. Reproduction was found in 4 of 4 clear ponds, 
3 of 6 intermediate ponds, and in of 3 muddy ponds in vrhich they were used. 
In the 11 ponds exhibiting reproduction, the size range of the recovered 
young was 1,7 to 6.4 inches; the average was about 3.6 inches. Recovered 
young in the seven clear ponds had an average length of 3.7 inches, com- 
pared to 3.5 inches for the young foxind in the four ponds of intermediate 
turbidity. 

The previous discussion has considered only the occurrence and not the 
rates of reproduction. Table 5 gives the total weights of young recovered 
from the 12 ponds for which total populations were estimated. For redears the 
average production in clear ponds (100.3 pounds per acre) in 1955 was approx- 
imately 3 times that in the intermediate ponds (32.5 pounds per acre), and 
over 300 times that from the muddy ponds (0.33 pounds per acre). Weight of 
young bluegill in clear ponds was approximately 18 times that in the muddy 
ponds. It should be pointed out that only two clear and two muddy ponds are 



-22- 



Table 5. Weights in pounds per acre of 1954 and 1955 year classes as 

determined from final population estimates made at end of 1955 
growing season. 







Largemouth bass 


Redear 


sunfish 


Bluegill 


Pond 


Average 
turbidity 










no. 


1954 1955 


1954 


1955 


1945 1955 




-25 


0.86 12.9 






100.6 73.7 




a 


3,5 3.5 






46.3 36.0 




' 


0=0 23.3 


23„8 


99.3 






^ 


0.0 3.7 


10.1 


101.2 




14 


46 


0.0 20.6 


30.1 


11.7 




17 


64 


0.0 11.9 


21.0 


47.0 




19 


76 


0.0 24.2 


3.4 


59.7 




22 


94 


1.4 4.8 


7.7 


U.7 




26 


122 


0,0 4.6 






3.5 4.1 


27 


132 


0,0 0.0 


0.0 


0.66 




29 


185 


0.0 0.0 






7.4 0.83 


32 


339 


0.0 0.0 


0.0 


0.0 





-23= 



compared for the sunfisheSj but less complete records obtained by seining 
other ponds confinned these general proportions. The data show a higher 
average weight of young bass in intermediate ponds than in the clear ponds. 
It is of course impossible to separate completely the various causal factors 
in such returns. It is possible that the intermediate turbidities may in 
some way favor the reproduction and/or survival of bass,^ as has been suggested 
by Doan (1941) for sauger^ In this instance, however, competition from the 
companion sunfishes in the manner described by Bennett (1954) is believed to 
have had an important influence on the yield of bass since the weights and 
numbers of young sunfishes were vastly greater in the clear than in the in- 
termediate ponds. 

An attempt was made to determine the level of turbidity above which 
reproduction became severely restricted. The exact level of course was not 
determinable because such factors as age of pond and condition of the bottom 
seemed to have additional influence „ It was observed, for instance, that newer 
ponds with firm^ unsilted bottoms produced young at higher average turbidities 
than older ponds having soft^ silt-laden bottoms. The greater fertility 
common to new ponds was undoubtedly an additional factor,, The accuracy of 
the determination was further limited by the fact that turbidities of individ- 
ual ponds varied considerably from time to time, A completely accurate deter- 
mination could be made only by use of completely controlled conditions and 
by observing the turbidity at the exact time of spawning. Since dates of 
spawning were not observed and since they undoubtedly varied from pond to 
pond, particularly for the sunfishes, the average turbidities compiled over 
the two year period are believed to offer the most reliable basis for this 
determination. Upon this basis, the critical level appeared to lie between 



-24- 

75 and 100 ppm for all three species, with 100 ppm as the approximate level 
above which spawning success was severely restricted, or non-existent. The 
critical limit for bass appeared to be somewhat below that for the sunfishes. 
Successful reproduction was achieved in the newer, hard-bottomed ponds at 
somewhat higher turbidities than in older ponds, but reproduction was generally 
of low proportions when turbidities exceeded 100 ppm. As mentioned pre- 
viously, a small number of young bass and redear were recovered from one 
pond having an average turbidity of 239 ppm. This was somewhat surprising 
since no young were recovered from several ponds having much lower turbidities. 
It is believed possible that these young fish were stocked by one of the many 
persons having an interest in the pond since it was located in a comparatively 
urban area, and both young bass and redears were available from adjacent ponds. 

Table 5 shows that Pond No. 19 was the most turbid (average turbidity: 76 
ppm) from which a reasonably large weight of yoiing bass was recovered. This 
yield was at the rate of 24.2 pounds per acre of young of the year bass, which 
represented an est mated 1300 individuals per acre averaging 3.0 inches in 
length. The next most turbid pond (94ppm) yielded only 4.8 pounds, or 650 
individuals per acre with a smaller average length of 2.6 inches. The next 
record is for a pond having an average turbidity of 122 ppm, from which the 
yield was 4.6 pounds per acre, representing 87 individuals with an average 
length of 4.6 inches. A very limited number of young bass were seined from 
one other pond having an average turbidity of 148 ppm, and no reproduction was 
found in any pond having a higher turbidity with the exception of the single 
pond mentioned above. 

Pond No. 19 with an average turbidity of 76 ppm also yielded fairly large 
numbers of young redears (Table 5), but production dropped notably in more 



-25- 

turbid ponds = Complete population estimates were not made for any bluegill 
pond within the intermediate range, but 83 ppm was the most turbid water from 
which large niimbers of small bluegills were recovered by seining, and weights 
and numbers decreased markedly in more turbid ponds - 

Plankton Production 

In a correlated study (Claffey, 1955), 20 of the Payne County ponds were ./ 
sampled once each month for 6 months of the 1954 growing season (April to 
October) to determine the abundance of microscopic fish food. Volume of net 
plankton in the surface waters (0 to 2 feet) in clear ponds (averages 0.0192 
milliliters per liter) was 8 times greater than in ponds having intermediate 
turbidities (average; 0=0024 milliliters per liter), and 12.8 times greater 
th an in muddy ponds (averages 0.0015 m.illiliters per liter) (See Figure 3). 
Less intensive investigations in 1955 showed small average differences due 
to larger concentrations of plankton (chiefly zooplankton) in the surface 
waters of a few turbid ponds = 

Light penetration appears to be the principal limiting factor in pro- 
ductivity of turbid waters. Using a spectrophotometer, Claffey (1955) found 
that in water having a turbidity of 25 ppm, only 24.9 percent of the original 
light of the red wave lengths (the most penetrating) was visible at a depth 
of 4 inches j° at 50 ppn, only 5 = 3 percent., At turbidities of 150 ppm , no light 
of any visibly wave length penetrated through a depth of 3 inches. 

HATCHERY POND EXPERIMENTS 

The use of hatchery ponds was desirable because; 1) the farm ponds 
exhibited individual variations in productivity due to differences in fertility 
and physiography of the basins and watersheds which could not be fully evaluated; 



0.020 



0.010 



0.0C3 
0.002 

0.00 1 
O.CCC 



NET PLANKTON VOLUME 



PONDS 



-^ 



6 PO/V05 



4 PONDS 



CLEAR 

-25PPM 



INTERMEDIATE 
44-t6 PPM 



MUDDY 
II6-2M PPM 



Figure 3. Average volumes of net plankton in surface waters 
of three categories of farm ponds as determined from monthly 
samples taken from April to October, 1954. 



-27" 

and 2) the use of morphologically similar hatchery ponds would minimize 
these natural variables and would facilitate a more complete return of the 
fish populations through draining. The desired turbidities were then to be 
created by artificial means, simulating as nearly as possible the range of 
turbidities found in the farm ponds. It was hoped that by starting with 
morphologically similar ponds the final results could be attributed more 
definitely to the effects of the induced turbidities >, 

This work was done at the State Fish Hatchery at Durant, Oklahoma. The 
ponds used were rectangular in shape, with average dimensions of 61 by 69.5 
feet, holding an average of approximately 0.1 (range; 0.084 to 0111) acre 
of water. Maximum depths were occasionally as low as 2=5 feet, due to evapor- 
ation, but the ponds were periodically raised to depths of 3.5 feet. The 
average depths were maintained at approximately 1.5 feet« The water supply 
for the hatchery is pumped from the Blue River. The water is ordinarily 
clear (less than 25 ppm), having the chemical characteristics shown in Table 6. 

METHODS AND PROCEDURES 

It was hoped initially" that some natural soil material could be found 
that would remain in suspension in the pond waters and that the turbidities 
could be controlled by the amount of such material added^ However, all 
materials used rapidly settled out, apparently due to a high availability 
of positive ions in the water causing the neutralization and flocculation 
of the negatively charged clay colloids in the manner described by Irwin and 
Stevenson (1951). An attempt was then made to find some agent that could pre- 
vent or retard coagulation of the soil materials. After considerable exper- 
imentation in the laboratory, the use of sodium silicate was found to be 



-28- 



Table 6. Chemical characteristics of Blue River, near Blue, Oklahoma, as 

determined by four examinations made in the months of March, April, 
June and July, 1955.^ 



Average 
PP". 



Range 
ppn. 



Calcium 

Magnesium 

Sodium 

Chloride 

Bicarbonate (HCO3) 

Carbonate (CO3) 

Hardness as CaCOs: Total 

Noncarbonate 

Specific conductance 
(raicromhos at 25°C) 



PH 



41.8 


28-56 


23 


13-32 


8.6 


6.5-12 


13 


7. -19 


226 


160-264 


... 


... 


199 


140-240 


13.8 


4-24 


379 


271-453 


7.8 


7.5-7.9 



1 From unpublished records of the U. S. Geological Survey. 



-29- 

fairly effective. Tests showed that the use of 1=2 cubic centimeters of the 
chemical with 10 grams of clay soil per gallon of pond water caused the finely 
divided soil to remain long in suspension.^ The chemical had the effect of a 

■'■The material was mostly unweathered subsoil mined approximately 6 miles south 
of the hatchery in an area having tight, alkaline clay soils. 

'dispersing agent, probably by forming a protective coating around the soil 
colloids and greatly retarding their flocculation. The substance is relatively 
inert and has no obvious effect on fishes, plankton, insects, or other aquatic 
organisms. Four ponds were treated with combinations of clay and the chemical, 
and two additional ponds were treated with the chemical only (Table 7). It 
was found, however, that the turbidities could be controlled only within broad 
ranges. This was believed partly due to the individual characteristics of the 
•ponds, and also to a lack of uniformity in the soil material. Such large 
quantities were involved that it was impossible to standardize the soil be- 
yond the crude selections made in the field. The soil was trucked to the 
ponds and finely divided in 55 gallon drums by use of water pressure from a 
two-inch pump. The sodium silicate was also added to the barrel, and this 
highly turbid mixture was then pumped into the pond. The original turbidities 
were high, but they lessened over a period of weeks until additional treat- 
ment was needed. 

Since there was some doubt that the use of the chemical would prove 
successful, it was decided to muddy an equal number of ponds by use of carp. 
Five adult carp were added to each of six ponds (Table 7), The possibility 
of reproduction was eliminated by using only males or females together in 
the same pond. Attempts were made to control the turbidities by the weight 
of carp used in each pond and by the amount of clay soil added to the ponds. 



-30- 









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-32- 

Again the attempts at control were quite ineffective. The addition of clay 
had no observable effect on turbidity in the absence of the chemical, and 
there was little oi no correlation between weight of carp used and turbidities 
created. 

The final alignment vfas now six ponds treated with chemical, six with 
carp, and two left untreated as controls. The six ponds receiving the chemical 
were first muddied ^iay 11-14, the carp were added on May 18, 1955. Each 
pond was stocked with 125 largemouth bass, 100 bluegill and 50 channel cat- 
fish. The bass were young of the year with an average length of 1.9 inches 
( range : 1,7 - 2.1). Both the bluegills and the channel catfish were yearling 
fish - the bluegills averaging 3.1 inches (ranges 1.9 - 4.5), and the channel 
catfish 3.5 inches (range: 2.7 - 4.2). The bluegills were stocked on April 28, 
the bass and channel catfish on May 17 and 18. The ponds were revisited once 
each third week throughout the summer to take plankton and turbidity samples 
and to check the need for further treatment. Ponds 5, 6, 9 and 10 were given 
additional treatments on May 25, July 25, and August 25, 1955, to maintain 
their turbidities, and the water levels of all ponds were raised at these times. 
Eight of the clearer ponds also developed excessive growths of vegetation 
(mostly bushy pondweeds, Majas spp. ) , which were twice thinned to prevent the 
ponds from being overgrown. The ponds were drained during the period October 
31 to November 2, 1955. 

FINDINGS FROM THE HATCHERY PONDS 

As in the farm ponds, the clear hatchery water produced notably faster 
growths, as well as greater total weights of bass and bluegill (Table 7). 
It was found, however, that channel catfish production was greater in the 



-33- 

muddy than in either clear or intermediate ponds. The average total productior 
(all three species combined) in the three clear ponds vras at the rate of 137 
pounds per acre, as compared with 94 in the intermediate ponds and 98 in the 
most turbid ponds. The greater production in the clear ponds was attributable 
to a greater weight of bass and bluegills. The larger total weight of fish 
in the most turbid ponds as compared to the intermediate ponds was due princi- 
pally to the faster growth and higher survival of catfish in the muddier 
ponds and, to a lesser degree, to a slightly larger production of bass in the 
muddy than in the intermediate ponds a This last was attributed to the direct 
influence of carp on bass, however, since only 1 of the 4 muddy ponds (Table 
7) contained carp, while carp were present in 5 of the 7 intermediate ponds. 
The same competitive influence accounts for the faster growth by the parent 
bluegills in the muddy ponds (Table 7), The final total weights of bluegills 
were approximately equal in the intermediate and muddy ponds, however, due 
to the consistently greater production of young bluegill in the carp ponds 
than in either the most turbid ponds without carp or in the clear, untreated 
ponds (Nosc 3 and 4, Table 7), 

The influences of turbidity on growth, survival and total production are 
more clearly illustrated by Table 8, which includes only those ponds not 
containing carp and which eliminates the influence of competition by this 
species o Again, the higher recovery from the clear ponds was due to greater 
production of bass and bluegill, and the greater weight in the muddy than in 
the intermediate ponds was due to the faster growth and greater survival of 
catfish in the muddiest ponds = For both bass and bluegills the relationship 
was direct and consistent throughout; ioeo, as turbidity increased, the rates 
of growth, rates of survival, and total weights decreased. Rates of survival 



-34- 

are significant here due to their intimate relation to the companion values. 
For example, the greater growth by bass in the clear ponds is of added 
significance since the survival rates also were higher in the clear than in 
the intermediate or muddy ponds. 



Table 8. Growth, survival, and total weights of largemouth bass, bluegill and 
channel catfish in relation to turbidity in hatchery ponds. Figures 
in parenthesis denote percent recovery of original number stocked. 





Average 


Laraemouth 


I bass 




Blueaill^ 


Channel 


catfish 




Pond 

no. 


Average 
growth 

in 
inches 


Pounds 
per 
acre 


Average 
growth 

in 
inches 


Pounds 
per 


Average 
growth 

in 
inches 


Pounds 
per 


Pounds 
per acre 
all 


3 


-25 


3.5 


(62) 


48 


3.3 


(48) 


69 


5.1 


(32) 


24.5 


142 


4 


-25 


3.1 


(67) 


42.8 


3.2 


(63) 


75.6 


4.8 


(44) 


29,2 


148 


14 


-25 


2.4 


(76) 


28.3 


1.5 


(49) 


45.6 


3.3 


(30) 


11,9 


120 


Averages in 




3.0 


(68) 


39.7 


2.7 


(53) 


63.4 


4.4 


(35) 


21.9 


137 


13 


62 


2.9 


(38) 


19.2 


1.2 


(46) 


30.9 


4.6 


(34) 


20.6 


83 


5 


72 


2.4 


(55) 


21.4 


2.5 


(56) 


55.7 


3.4 


(36) 


14.8 


92 


6 


110 


2.8 


(56) 


27.7 


2.7 


(56) 


56.5 


3.3 


(42) 


16.2 


100 


Averages in 
intermediate 
























ponds 




2.7 


(50) 


22.8 


2.1 


(53) 


47.7 


3.8 


(37) 


17.2 


92 


9 


175 


2,5 


(46) 


18.5 


1.5 


(77) 


71.4 


3.9 


(68) 


31.8 


122 


10 


203 


2.6 


(42) 


20.2 


1.2 


(30) 


24.1 


4.0 


(56) 


30.5 


75 


Averages in 
muddy ponds 




2.6 


(44) 


19.4 


1.4 


(36) 


47.8 


4.0 


(62) 


31.2 


99 



Growth figures are for adults only; total weights include adults plus young. 



-35- 



The channel catfish a^ain yielded the greatest total weight from the most 
turbid ponds J but other relationships appeared inconsistent. Table 8 shows 
that the clear ponds exhibited the fastest growth rates and the lowest rates 
of survival, while both survival and total weights were the greatest in the 
most turbid ponds. Catfish in the intermediate ponds survived at approximately 
the same rate as in the clear ponds, but had a slower growth and smaller total 
weight than either the clear or muddy ponds. One would expect the growth 
rate in the intermediate ponds to rank in an intermediate position consistent 
with the survival rate and degree of turbidity. That it did not may be due 
to some unknown food relationship in the ponds, or to some little understood 
characteristic of the species. It may be that the channel catfish is able to 
exploit the greater abundance of food in clear ponds by sight feeding, and can 
rely quite successfully on its sensory aids in the very turbid ponds, while 
enjoying neither advantage within certain intermediate ranges of turbidity. 
It seems clear, however, that catfish production was considerably enhanced by 
the muddy waters. While growth was somewhat faster in the clear ponds, this 
was more than compensated for by the much greater rate of survival and greater 
total weight produced in the muddy ponds. 

In spite of the morphological similarities of the ponds, the use of a 
common water supply, their side-by-side location, and other standardizing 
influences, the various ponds exhibited rather marked individual characteristics. 
For example, ponds 13 and 14 were immediately adjacent, differed in size by 
only approximately 0.007 of an acre, and received identical treatments; however, 
pond 14 remained clear throughout the investigation, and pond 13 maintained 
an average turbidity of 62 ppm. Ponds 11 and 12 also failed to conform to 
expectations. Pond 12 received the greater initial weight of carp by approximately 



-36- 

8 pounds (equivalent to 80 po\mds per acre), yet it remained clearer than pond 
11. Other examples may be observed in the tabled data. Despite these varia- 
tions, the carp and the chemical were considered generally effective for the 
purposes intended. 

The use of the chemical deserves some further discussion. It cannot be 
categorically stated that it had no effects beyond its intended function of 
sustaining the turbidities. That the effects were limited, however, seems 
evident from these considerations: 

1) The chemical had no observed influence on pH of the pond waters., or 
on the production of plankton, acjuatic insects, or other invertebrate 
forms o 

2) Survival of bass and bluegills was higher in the chemically treated 
ponds than in the ponds made turbid by carp. 

3) Pond 9, which received a maximum amount of the chemical, produced a 
greater weight of fishes than other ponds receiving lesser amounts. 

It was generally true, however, that production decreased with increase 
in turbidity, and an increase in turbidity was in most cases proportional 
to the amount of chemical used. 

4) While it was true that bluegill reproduction was greater in the carp 
ponds than in the chemically treated ponds, it was also true that the 
carp ponds yielded greater weights of young bluegills than the untreated, 
clear ponds. 

Additional evidence can be marshalled on both sides of the question. Since 
the effects were minimal, and the variations could be attributed to the demon- 
strated individualities of the ponds, and since the results conform closely with 
those from the farm ponds, the direct effects of the chemical are believed to 



-37- 



have been insignificant and to have had no important influence on the experiment, 

The presence or absence of carp had little influence on total weight of 
the companion fishes. Considering only the 11 turbid ponds (Table 7)^ the aver- 
age weight of bass, bluegills and channel catfish combined was 97 pounds Y^er 
acre in the carp ponds and S2 pounds per acre in the ponds without carp. The 
greater weight in the carp ponds was due to a greater weight of channel catfish 
and young bluegills, which more than compensated for a smaller weight of bass 
and adult bluegills. Considering the species separately, the carp exerted 
varying influences. Growth of bass and adult bluegill was less in the carp 
ponds than in the turbid ponds without carp, in spite of their lower average 
turbidity. Total weight of bass was also less in the carp ponds, but total 
weight of bluegills was greater due to the abundance of young produced in the 
carp ponds- Channel catfish production averaged higher in the carp ponds than 
in either the clear or the turbid ponds without carp, due to the much higher 
survival (75 percent, as compared with 35 in the clear, and 47 in the turbid 
ponds without carp)o The evidence that the presence of carp in some way en- 
hances the production of catfish is too strong to ignore. The beneficial 
influence may be due to the elimination of aquatic weeds by carp and/or their 
reduction in numbers of aquatic insects known to prey on young catfish. The 
greater yield of young bluegills in the carp ponds may have been brought about 
in the same way. 

Weight gains by carp had no apparent relation to turbidity within the 
rather small range of turbidities created. As might be expected, the gains 
were generally proportional to the initial weight of carp stocked (Table 9). 
The small gains in weight made by carp in ponds 15 and 16 suggests that the 
initial weights stocked were near the carrying capacity of these ponds for 



-38- 



Table 9o Weight gains of carp in relation to turbidities and weights of 
companion fishes. 



• *'«• 










Companion 


All 






Pounds 


per acre 




species 
Pounds 


species 
Total 


Pond 


Average 
turbidity 








per 
acre 


pounds 


noo 


Initial 


Final 


Gain 


per acre 


7 


47 


177 


240 


63 


121 


361 


8 


66 


150 


270 


120 


95 


365 


11 


112 


150 


223 


73 


97 


320 


12 


91 


228 


270 


43 


82 


352 


15 


74 


228 


247 


19 


104 


351 


16 


64 


300 


320 


20 


80 


400 



this species. It seems significant, however, that total weights of the com- 
panion fishes in these ponds were little different from ponds having lesser 
weights of carp, or having no carp at all, emphasizing that total carrying 
capacity may not always be revealed by the yield of a single species, or even 
a combination of species, unless all the resources of the pond are utilized. 
1\ seems clear that the carp populations were superimposed on the populations 
of companion fishes in such a way that compietition between the two was at a 
minimum. 

RESERVOIR STUDIES 

The reservoir phase of the study was designed to provide comparative 
data from two large bodies of water, one muddy, the other clear. The very 
muddy Heyburn Reservoir and the clear Upper Spavinaw Reservoir were made the 
chief subjects of study, with supplemental data from other reservoirs. 

Heyburn is a 1,070-acre Corps of Engineers flood-control project im- 
pounded in late 1950 on Polecat Creek, Creek County, Oklahoma. Heyburn was a 
natural choice as a turbid reservoir since it has been continuously turbid 
throughout most of its impoundment. From the period September, 1952, through 
September 1955, surface turbidities at the dam ranged between a high of 300 
ppm in March, 1954, to a low of 51 ppm in August, 1955. The average turbidity 
through the summer of 1954 was 136 ppnij for the summer of 1955, 126 ppn. The 
lake is shallow (10 feet average depth, 42.5 maximum) and divides a short 
distance above the dam to form two narrow, winding arms. The bottom consists 
chiefly of partially cleared mud flats. The high turbidity imparts a yellowish- 
brown color which is distinctly unattractive. The terrain is moderately hilly, 
the region is very poor agriculturally, and erosion is severe. 



-40- 



Upper Spavinaw, impounded in January, 1952, is one of two water-supply- 
reservoirs constructed and operated by the City of Tulsa on Spavinaw Creek, 
Delaware County, Oklahoma. The 3,192-acre lake formed has an average depth 
of 25 feet and a maxirauii depth of 90 feet. It resembles a long, narrow, 
slightly crooked finger, with margins roughly serrated by numerous coves. 
Relatively flat shorelines, shallow waters, and silted, mud bottoms are re- 
stricted almost entirely to a small headwater region. Siltation has been 
slight, and the reservoir has remained clear since impoundment. 

It is recognized that broad ecological differences are associated with 
the differences in turbidities and that turbidity is only one of several 
factors of possible influence on the biology of the two reservoirs. It is 
believed, however, that differences in turbidities were closely related to 
differences in growth, relative abundance, and reproductive success of certain 
species studied, as well as for differences in plankton production, rates of 
fisherman use, and fishing success, in the two reservoirs. 

FINDINGS FROM THE RESERVOIR STUDIES 

Results from the clear and muddy reservoirs were consistent with those 
from the clear and muddy ponds. The clear reservoir exhibited faster growth 
by all species in a population dominated by gizzard shad, largemouth bass and 
bluegill, as contrasted with a slower-growing population in the muddy reservoir 
having catfish, carp, carpsuckers and stunted white crappies as the principal 
fishes. Young-of-year bass, crappies and other scaled fishes were generally 
scarce in the muddy reservoir and there was an abundance of young catfishes. 
The reverse was found in the clear reservoir. 



■41- 



Larqemouth bass 

Growth of largemouth bass in Heyburn Reservoir was slower than in Upper 
SpavinaWj, as well as in all other Oklahoma reservoirs of similar age and size 
for which data were available (Table 10). While average first-year growth was 
greater at Heyburn than at Canton Reservoir, this advantage was lost during 
the second and third growing seasons „ The comparisons in Table 10 are re- 
stricted to new (impounded five years or less) Oklahoma reservoirs of over 
500 surface acres. Here, as in subsequent comparisons, the growth figures 
represent weighted averages for the various years of growth. For example, 
the figure presented in Table 10 as first-year growth for Heyburn represents 
a weighted average of first-year growths made during five different growing 
seasons. This growth was remarkably uniform at Heyburn, averaging 5.2 inches 
for the four years 1950 through 1953, dropping to 4.1 in 1954. First-year 
growth in Upper Spavinaw averaged 6,4 inches. These results agree with those 
of Jenkins and Hall (1953) who found growths of bass to be consistently faster 
in Oklahoma lakes known to be usually clear than in those known to be con- 
sistently turbid. 

The history of the Heyburn largemouth bass population is unique. Out- 
standing characteristics have been the preponderance of relatively old bass 
and the scarcity of young bass — an extremely unusual condition in new res- 
ervoirs. In 1952 and 1953 Orr (personal correspondence) collected 93 bass 
of which 72 percent were of the 1950 year class, and 20 percent were of the 
1951 year class. When collected, 92 percent of Orr's fish were in their 
third year or older, and yearling bass were completely absent from the 1953 
collections at a time when, in a normal population structure, they should 
have been dominant. The results in 1954 and 1955 were very similar. 



-42- 



Table 10, Largemouth bass growths at Heyburn and Upper Spavinaw compared with 
growths made in other new Oklahoma reservoirs „ 





Cond- 
ition 


Size 

in 

acres 


No. 
of 
fish 


Dates 
coll- 
ected 


Average calculated total length 
in inches at end of year 


Name of 
reservoir 


1 


2 


3 


4 


Heyburn 


Muddy 


1,070 


182 


52-55 


5.2 


9.6 


13.1 


15.5 


Upper Spavinaw 


Clear 


3,192 


355 


52-55 


6.4 


11.7 


15.5 




Ft= Gibson^ 


Clear 


19,100 


132 


1953 


7o5 


11,3 






Tenkiller2 


Clear 


12,500 


142 


53-54 


7.9 


16.4 






Clear Creek 


Clear 


800 


154 


50-51 


8.2 


14.1 


17.1 




Canton'^ 

Wister^ 


Inter- 
mediate 

Inter- 
mediate 


4,900 
4,000 


558 
222 


49-51 
51-52 


4.5 
6.9 


10.8 
11.2 


15o5 
14.5 


17.7 



1 Unpublished data on file at the Oklahoma Fisheries Research Laboratory. 

2 Data from Oklahoma Fisheries Research Laboratory Report No, 32, October, 1953. 

3 Growths at Canton and Wister were based on calculated body-scale relationships 
and probably average slightly higher in the younger age groups than if calculated 
by the direct proportion method used in all other samples. These and the Clear 
Creek data were taken from Jenkins and Hall (1953), 



J 



Of 56 bass collected in 1954, 64 percent were in their fourth year or older, 32 
percent were in their third year, and only one yearling fish was taken. The 
seunples were mostly taken by rotenone, \mdoubtedly the least selective of any 
available method. In 1955, 35 bass were aged of iriiich 23, or approximately two- 
thirds, were in their third year or older and only 12 were second-year fish. 
Young-of-t he-year bass were extremely scarce at Heyburn in 1954 and 1955. Ex- 
tensive seining in all areas and the nine rotenone samples yielded only 57 
young in 1954, and 39 in 1955. All evidence points to a small population dominated 
by slow-growing, older bass, with very limited recruitment through natural re- 
production. It seems extremely doubtful that the population 



-43- 

will be able to sustain itself in the face of increasing turbidities. The 
largemouth bass population at Upper Spavinaw contrasted sharply with that of 
Heyburno Young-of-the-year were extremely abundant both years. The population 
of fingerling bass in the 10-acre cove rotenoned on June 21, 1955 was con- 
servatively estimated at 21,780 individuals, ranging from 1,4 to 2.5 inches 
total length. In 1954 yearling bass (1953 year class) in sizes of 5 to 11 
inches could be seen throughout the lake on any day, with several schools often 
simultaneously in view wildly thrashing the surface as they fed upon small fish. 
This large year class dominated the angler catch throughout 1955. They con- 
tinued to school throughout the second siimmer but were commonly seen only in the 
early morning and almost always in the deep, open, central regions of the lake. 
Here large numbers of boats converged each morning since the bass were easily 
caught by placing amost any type of lure near the feeding, surfacing schools. 

White crappie 

Growth of Heyburn white crappies was also the poorest of any Oklahoma 
reservoir of similar age and size (Table 11). Average second-year length was 
5»0 inches, more than 3 inches less than the next slowest growth recorded from 
other new Oklahoma reservoirs. First-year growth for four specimens of the 1954 
year class collected at Upper Spavinaw was 7,7 inches, and for 8 individuals of 
the 52 year class 7.9 inches; however, the collections were dominated by the 
more abxindant 1953 year class which had an average first-year growth of only 3.4 
inches. Again the results agree with investigations in Oklahoma (Hall, Jenkins 
and Finnell, 1954) which found growth consistently slower in 31 turbid than in 
45 clear Oklahoma lakes. 

In both 1954 and 1955 at Heyburn, the white crappie was the most abundant 
fish (and very often the only fish) returned in hoop nets, gill nets, and wire 



■44- 



Table 11 « White crappie growths at Heyburn and Upper Spavinaw compared with 
growths made in other new Oklahoma reservoirs. ■'• 



Size No. Dates 
Nams of Cond- in of coil- 
reservoir ition acres fish ected 



Average calculated total length 
in inches at end of year 



Heyburn Muddy 1,070 446 52-55 

Upper Spavinaw Clear 3,192 304 52-55 

Ft= Gibson Clear 19,100 479 52-53 

Tenkiller Clear 12,500 139 52-53 

Canton^ Inter- 4,900 1,552 48-53 

mediate 

Wister3 Inter- 4,000 346 49-52 

mediate 



2.8 


5.0 


7.3 


3.6 


12.32 




2.8 


8.6 


10„9 


4.1 


8.4 


11.5 


4.1 


8o3 


10.3 


3.9 


8.3 


10.5 



12.5 



11.7 
12.6 



1 Comparative data from Hall, Jenkins and Finnell (1954). 

2 Represents only four individuals, 

3 Growths from Canton and Wister Reservoirs were based on calculated body-scale 
relationships and probably average slightly higher in the younger age groups 
than if calculated by the direct proportion method used in the other calculations. 



traps, and in both years it was outnumbered only by the gizzard shad in the 
rotenone samples. In spite of this prominence the population was not considered 
large. By weight it was less prominent, ranking seventh in the rotenone collections 
for both years. 

The Heyburn white crappie population resembled that of the largemouth bass 
with a pronounced and unusual dominance of older fish, indicating again that 
natural reproduction was severely restricted. Orr collected and aged 234 white 
crappies in 1953 of which only 10, or less than 5 percent, were of the 1952 year- 
class at a time when this age group should have dominated the returns. In 1954, 
the 1952 year class represented a much greater percentage of the sample, and 
the 1953 year class was atypically scarce with only 8, of this age group among 



-45- 

a sample of 142 fish., That only the larger fish were being sampled is strongly 
suggested; however, the same age distribution was common to all types of samples, 
including those taken by rotenone. The explanation must be that each successive 
year class was smaller than the previous so that its size was small or large 
as compared with a more abiindant, previous year class, or a smaller succeeding 
year class . 
■^ By 1955 the population had assumed a more normal structure due to a greater 
spawn of white crappies in 1954 than in previous years. Of the total of 74 fish 
aged, 56 were of the 1954, 8 of the 1953, and 10 of the 1952 year class » However, 
the 1954 year class was by no means large and gained its prominence only due to 
the weakness of the preceding year classes » 

From the small numbers present in Heyburn, as compared with populations in 
other reservoirs, one would not consider the lake as overpopulated by this species. 
With consideration of the slow growth, however, one must assume that the numbers 
exceed the supply of food and/or other requirements, vAich is, in effect, over- 
population. It is therefore extremely doiibtful that the white crappie will ever 
assume any importance to the Heyburn angle r« 

The black crappie is rare and of no significance in the Heyburn fishery. 
Known to have little affinity for turbid conditions, the species will probably 
disappear completely in future years. The situation was again different at 
Upper Spavinaw„ Black crappies greatly outnumbered the white, and collections 
of both species during both years consisted chiefly of yearling individuals, 
rather than older fish. Wire trap catches in 1954 indicate the relative 
abundance of the two, wherein 136 lifts yielded 1,110 black crappies and only 
124 white crappies. 



-46- 



Cat fishes 

The clear and turbid reservoirs differed significantly in abundance of 
channel and flathead catfishes. Both species are abundant at Heyburn, while 
^Kily a single adult flathead and only two adult channel catfish have been 
recorded from Upper Spavinaw. The contrast is undoubtedly related to the 
differences in turbidity. In the first years of clear reservoirs, bass, crappies, 
and other scaled species apparently outproduce the catfishes and limit catfish 
survival through predation on their young. While individual pairs of catfish 
probably spawn as many yoxing in clear as in turbid waters, the protection 
afforded by the turbid waters enables more to survive. The greater abilities 
of the catfishes to find food in the turbid environment increases this ad- 
vantage, and the bass and crappies lose ground in the competition for food. 

In spite of its tolerance for turbid waters, growth of channel catfish 
at Jfeyburn was slower than growths recorded from any other Oklahoma reservoir 
"Vf similar age and size (Table 12). These results agree with those of Finnell 
and Jenkins (1954) who found turbidities to retard growth of channel catfish 
uniformly in both small lakes and large lakes as well as in large reservoirs. 

On the whole, however, the channel catfish seemed well adapted to Heyburn 
conditions. Growth rates compared more favorably with those from other waters 
than the bass and crappie gr9wths, and the population structure was more normal 
as evidenced by a more even distribution among the different age and size 
groups . 

Growth of flathead catfish at Heyburn compared favorably with growths 
in other Oklahoma reservoirs as recorded by McCoy (1955). However, McCoy's 
lakes were mostly older waters, while Heyburn is comparatively new. Average 
first-year growth at Heyburn was 4.9 inches, second year 11.0 inches, third- 



^ 



■47- 



Table 12 o Channel catfish growths at Heyburn and Upper Spavinaw compared with 
growths made in other new Oklahone reservoirs. 



Average calculated total length 
Size No» Dates in inches at end of year 



Name of Cond- in of coll- 12 3 4 5 

reservoir ition acres fish ected 

Heyburn Muddy 1,070 395 52-55 3.3 7,2 9,2 11=3 

Uppsr Spavinaw Clear 3,192 5 54-55 6.6 18 .S^ 

Ft. Gibson Clear 19,100 995 51-54 3.6 7.8 11.3 15,2 18.5 

Tenkiller Clear 12,500 171 1953 4ol 11.6 16.0 19.0 21„2 

Canton Inter- 4,900 101 50-52 3.7 7.9 11„5 16.4 

mediate 
Wister Inter- 4,000 20 50-53 5.1 11.7 16.1 20.6 20.9 

mediate 

1 Comparative data from Finnell and Jenkins (1954). 

2 Represents a single specimen. _____^ _______^ 

year 21,1, and fourth year 28,3 inches. Heyburn first-year growth was exceeded 
in only 7 of McCoy^'s 20 lakes, second-year growth in only five, third-year growth 
in two, and fourth- year growth in only one. 

It seems evident that the flathead has a high tolerance if not an actual 
predilection for turbid conditions. McCoy observed that turbidity had little 
effect upon rate of growth in his studies, and Jenkins (1954) foiond flatheads 
to exhibit faster growths in the shallower, more turbid sections of Grand Lake 
than in the deeper, clearer waters o Heyburn flatheads certainly exhibited the 
most favorable growth of any species studied. In addition, it was relatively 
abundant, ranking 5th by weight, in rotenene collections; and all age and size 
groups were well represented in the population. 

It is expected that the channel and flathead catfishes will provide the 
best future fishing opportunities at Heyburn. Since it is extremely doubtful 



-48- 



that any of the scaled fishes could ever be important in the Heyburn fishery, 
future management would do well to concentrate on catfish production. 

Total Population Estimates 

On the basis of rotenone samples, the standing crop of fish per acre at 
Heyburn was considerably less than that at Upper Spavinaw, and far below that 
for other Oklahoma reservoirs. Six coves, totalling 12.8 acres, were rotenoned 
at Heyburn in 1954, and an additional 3 coves, totalling 3.7 acres, were treated 
in 1955. One large cove of 10.0 acres was treated at Upper Spavinaw in 1955. 
All coves were closed off with nets to minimize movement by fish in or out of 
the sample areas. The data for 1955 for both reservoirs (Table 13 > were based 
on complete recoveries of all but the smallest fishes. These small fishes were 
relatively scarce at Heyburn, but the fry of sunfishes, brook silversides, and 
fingerling bass, were extremely abtmdant at Upper Spavinaw, and their weights 
were estimated. For 1954, however, the Heyburn data are less complete since 
recoveries from three of the areas treated included only those fish which 
surfaced the first day. Should the total average recovery of 55.5 pounds per 
acre be doubled, the adjusted figure of 111.0 F»otmds is believed to represent 
.the maximum possible poundage from these areas. Both this yield, and the yield 
of 117 pounds per acre from Heyburn in 1955 are well below the yield of 177 
pounds per acre from Upper Spavinaw, and much below the averages recorded from 
similar experiments in other Oklahoma reservoirs. Thompson (1950) treated 
8 areas, totaling 15.75 acres of clear Grand Lake (46,300 acres), and re- 
covered an average of 623 pounds per acre. Jackson (1955) treated 8 acres of 
the clear Lower Spavinaw Reservoir (1,637 acres) and recovered an average of 
540.6 pounds per acre. From the turbid Claremore City Lake (470 acres), 
Jenkins (1949) recovered an average of 236.4 pounds per acre from a treatment 



-49- 

of 3.5 acres o 

Abundances of the various species in the rotenone returns from Heyburn and 
Upper Spavinaw are shown in Table 13. In summary^ the outstanding differences 
were these. 

1, In clear Upper Spavinaw^ the gizzard shad represented 73.7 percent of 

the total weight of fishes^ followed in order by bluegills (6.1 percent), 
largemouth bass (5.7 percent )„ carp (3.8 percent )„ with the channel and 
flathead catfishes of no significance (both representing less than 0.01 
percent of the total weight of fishes). 
2o In muddy Heyburn, shad ranked only fourth in 1955 (eighth in 1954) „ 
with carp first (23=7 percent )j channel catfish second (15.8 percent), 
river carpsucker third (16.0 percent )„ flathead catfish fifth, bass 
sixth, and bluegills eleventh, 

3. The ratio of the forage fishes (shad, minnows and the small sunfishes) 
to the predaceous bass and crappie was approximately 1 to 1 at Heyburn 
and approximately 13 to 1 at Upper Spavinaw, While the 13 to 1 ratio 
is somewhat higher than is generally believed desirable, it is of the 
order necessary to maintain a satisfactory sport fishery such as Upper 
Spavinaw now supports „ 

4. In Heyburn the combined weight of the rough fishes (carp, river carp- 
suckers, and the two species of bullheads) represented 42.4 percent 
of the population by weight, as compared with a total of 7.0 percent 
for the carp, bullheads, and the 5 spjecies of suckers present at Upper 
Spavinaw. 

On the basis of supplementary sampli-ng data, the proportfons xsf various 
species in Heyburn rotenone samples are believed to reflect accurately the true 



-so- 



Table 13 o Pounds per acre and percentage composition from recoveries following 
rotenone treatment of 6 areas totalling 12.8 acres at Heyburn in 1954, 
of 3 areas totalling 3.7 acres at Heyburn in 19555 and one area of 
10 acres at Upper Spavinaw in 1955 » 



Average pounds per acre and percent (in 
reight of fishes recovered 



parentheses) of total 



Species 



Heyjourn 



1954 



1955 



Upper Spavinaw 
1955 



Gizzard shad 

Largemouth bass 

Smallfflouth bass 

White crappie 

Black crappie 

Bluegill 

Green sunfish 

Orange spxstted 

sunfish 
Longear sunfish 

Redear sunfish 

Warmouth bass 

Rock bass 

Channel catfish 

Flathead catfish 

Black bullhead 

Yellow bullhead 

Carp 

River oarpsucker 

Black redhorse 

Hog sucker 

White sucker 

Spotted sucker 

Misc. species 
TOTALS _ 



2.59 (4,3) 

10o90 (19o6l 

3o80 (6.8) 

0.09 (0.2) 

0.56 (1.0) 

0.70 (1.3) 

0.14 (0.3) 



6.75 (12.1) 

6.46 (11.7) 

11.00 (19.8) 

0,09 (0.2) 

5,71 (10.3) 

6.92 (12.4) 



12.39 (10,6) 

10,9 (9.3) 

7,37 (6.3) 

1.40 (1.2) 

1.85 (1,6) 

1.85 (1.6) 

0.21 (0,2) 



19,69 (16,8) 

11.36 (9.7) 

2,59 (2,2) 

0.53 (0.5) 

27.81 (23,8) 

18.78 (16,0) 



s.s ■ R \ inn go 



0.24 (0.2) 



130.89 (73.7) 

10,10 (5,7) 

1.97 (1.1) 
0.004 ,,, 
0.02 ,,, 

10,83 (6,1) 

5.13 (2.8) 

5.67 (3.2 

0.33 (0,2) 

0,05 (0.0) 

0.03 (0,0) 

2,93 (1.7) 

0.16 (0,1) 

6.68 (3.8) 

0,97 (0,6) 

0,58 (0,3) 

0.35 (0.2) 

0,70 (0,4) 

0,09 (0,1) 

Xnn- -AO 1 nn ni 



-51- 



proportions of the population,, However, both the black and white crappies, the 
largemouth bass, and the rock bass were known to be more abundant at Upper 
Spavinaw than indicated by the rotenone returns o Both crappies and the rock 
bass were commonly taken by wire traps in waters deeper than afforded by the 
rotenoned area, and a majority of the adult bass population appeared to be re- 
stricted to the open waters where they were often observed, as previously 
mentionedo 

A most significant shortage noted in the Heyburn rotenone collections 
was that of the forage species, particularly the gizzard shad. The shad is 
the principal food of bass^ crappies, and most other carnivorous forms in 
practically all large reservoirs where shad occur o They normally are present 
in enormous abundance, usually exceeding all other species in weight, as well 
as numbers. In the previously mentioned rotenone collections made at Grand 
Lake, Lower Spavinaw, and Claremore City Lake, shad made up about 66, 78 and 
52 percent, respectively, of the total weight of all fishes and represented 
73 o 7 percent of the total weight in the Upper Spavinaw sample » 

In the Heyburn sample shad represented 4=3 percent of the total weight of 
all fish recovered in 1954 and 10 ,.6 percent in 1955. Minnows and the common , 
sunfishes also were scarce „ All sunfishes represented less than 3 percent of 
the total weight of fishes. 

The low population figures indicate that some strong limiting factor was 
in operation= The plankton feeders were certainly limited by the low level of 
plankton production, as will be discussed later. Carnivorous forms were just 
as certainly limited by the scarcity of these forage species upon which they 
are dependent for food„ It also seems evident that reproduction of all species, 
with the exception of the catfishes, was limited to some degree by the high 



-52- 



rate of siltation, and associated turbidity. 

Plankton Production 

One of the most marked contrasts betvreen the clear and turbid reservoiis 
was in volume of plankton production. Samples were taken at 15-foot intervals 
once each second or third week through both sunaners. The samples obtained 
from Upper Spavinaw were not unusually rich for Oklahoma reservoirs, a fact 
which further emphasitts Heyburn's deficiency. In 1954, the average volume 
(Oo0085 milliliters per liter) of net plankton from the surface waters of 
Upper Spavinaw was 13.5 times greater than the average (0.0006) from Heyburn. 
Differences at both the 15- and 30-foot depths were similar, and the average 
volume from the 60-foot depth at Upper Spavinaw was greater than txie combined 
total from the surface, 15- foot, and 30-foot depths at Heyburn. The contrast 
was less marked in 1955, the surface samples from Upper Spavinaw having approx- 
imately three times the volume of samples from Heyburn surface waters, and the 
15- and 30-foot depths ^aly approximately twice as great. 

Fishing Success 

Fishing at the two reservoirs differed distinctly in quantity and quality, 
as well as in the methods used. Heyburn received quite heavy use from pic- 
nickers and boating enthusiasts but very little fishing. It provides neither 
the natural beauty nor the fishing opportunities to attract the vacation angler 
and is utilized chiefly by local residents vrtio fished the creeks with pole and 
line before the dam was constructed and who still employ much the same methods. 
Bait casting for bass was occasionally rewarding in the upper creeks when the 
streams were low and relatively clear, but bait fishing with cane poles, bank 
and trotlines predominated. 



"53- 

In sharp contrast ^ Upp>er Spavinaw combines grand scenic values with ex- 
cellent fishing opportunities. Most anglers use boats and motors and cast for 
bass, although bait fishing for bass and crappies is popular. Trotlining is 
rare since the catfish population has not yet developed. 

Creel census data show that from 3 to 4 times as many fish were removed 
from Upper Spavinaw than from Heyburn for the same unit of effort » Records 
taken by the City of Tulsa for the period September 1^ 1954^ through August, 
1955, reveal the average catch per fisherman hour to have been 0,94 legal 
fish, of which 54.4 percent were largemouth bass^ 30=5 percent crappie (black 
and white combined)^ the remainder consisting principally of smallmouth bass, 
miscellaneous sunfishes and black bullheads o The Heyburn catch during the 
summer of 1954, as recorded by the writer, was at the rate of 0,12 fish per 
fisherman hour, or approximately one fish for every 8 1/3 hours fished. 
The catch during September and October, 1954, as recorded by a local resident 
employed for the purpose, was at the rate of 0,40 fish per fisherman- hour. 
Combining the records for the two periods, the average catch was at the rate 
of 0a25 fish per fisherman-hour, consisting of approximately 45 percent crappie, 
35 percent largemouth bass, 15 percent channel catfish, 3 percent bullheads, 
1 percent flathead catfish, and 1 percent mixed simfishes. These figures do 
not include trot-line fishing, however. From June through October of 1954, 
a total of 1,663,5 hours of trot-line fishing was recorded. This represents 
the total hours when baited lines were in the water. The catch consisted of 
195 fish (155 channel catfish, 36 flatheads, and 4 bullheads), representing 
0,12 fish per trot-line hour. 

No creel census seemed justified at Heyburn in 1955 due to the extremely 
light fishing pressure. Often several consecutive days were spent on the lake 



-54- 

without encountering a single fishing boat, while anglers were always in 
evidence at Upper Spavinawo 

The census figures above are not believed to show as much difference as 
may really exist since the checks on Upper Spavinaw missed several periods 
when outstanding catches were made. For example, Mr. Sam Jackson, biologist 
for the City of Tulsa, estimated the largemouth bass catch by fishermen using 
rental boats in the period from mid-August to mid-September of 1953 to have 
been 14,000 legal-sized bass. His figures did not include bank fishing or 
private boat fishing. This was \mdoubtedly a peak period, but it is doubtful 
if 14,000 legal bass have been harvested from Heyburn since its impoundment. 

DISCUSSION 

Soil turbidity has been evaluated here as a principal limiting factor 
in growth and reproduction of fishes, food production and fishing success. 
Turbidity was studied because it is the most obvious and readily measured of 
the various effects of erosion. It should be mentioned, however, that tur- 
bidity may be only the visible evidence of other unmeasured factors which 
either contribute to, or are associated with, the undesirable conditions 
common to turbid waters. As observed by Irwin (1945), permanently turbid 
waters are invariably low in organic fertility. This presents the question 
as to whether turbidity is the cause or the result of the low fertility. In 
reality, it may be both. All waters are turbid following a large infliuc of 
erosion silt. The rate and degree of clearing depends upon the nature and 
size of the injected soil particles and the organic fertility of the water. 
Other conditions being equal, the most fertile water will clear more rapidly. 
This is due to a higher availability of positive ions capable of neutralizing 



-55- 

and precipitating the negatively charged soil particles (Irwin and Stevenson^ 
1951 )o However, if even the most fertile body of water is sxibjected to severe 
and continuous inflow of erosion silt the fertility will be dissipated and the 
turbidity may become permanent „ Once established the turbidity excludes light 
necessary for the synthesis of organic matter and, in the natural course of 
events, the fertility may not be replenished to the point sufficient to cause 
precipitation of the soil particles responsible for the turbidity. Then only 
by artificial treatment, or the natural inundation or inflow of large quan- 
tities of organic matter^ can the water be cleared sufficiently to once more 
enable the aquatic organisms to establish a cycle of organic matter synthesis 
and decomposition that can keep the water fertile — and clearo 

Siltation, or the settling and accumulation of transported materials is 
also common to highly turbid waters o The relationship of this blanketing 
action to bottom organisms, to fish reproduction, and to the biology of lake 
and stream bottoms is itself a fertile field for study, Siltation is also 
important, and costly, by its filling of reservoir basins and reducing the 
area of aquatic production„ The siltation of Lake Mead provides the classic 
example., When constructed in 1936 it impounded 155,723 acres, and extended 
for a length of 115 mileSo By 1950 siltation had reduced the length to 85 
miles (Wallis, 1950), with enough silt added each year to cover to a depth 
of 5 inches an area equal to the maximum area of the lake (Moffett, 1943)= 
The encroachment in ponds is also great o During the course of this investigation 
many pondowners were amazed to learn that ponds having 8-foot depths a few 
years before now measure only 3 to 4 feeto Complete loss of water in many 
Oklahoma ponds during the 1954 drouth was due to the fact that siltation had 
reduced their storage capacities o Such losses invariably occurred in the 



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muddiest ponds in locations subject to the most severe erosiono 

SUMMARY 

1. The results of a two-year study of the effects of turbidity on fish 
and fishing in Oklahoma ponds and large reseryoirs is presented. The 
project was co-sponsored by the Outboard Boating Clxib of America, the 
Sport Fishing Institute, and the Oklahoma Game and Fish Department. 

2. Pond work involved (1) a study of growth and reproduction of large- 
mouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish, and production of plankton 
in 33 experimentally stocked farm ponds of varying degrees of tur- 
bidity, and (2) a study of growth of largemouth bass, bluegill and 
channel catfish in artificially muddied hatchery ponds. 

3. Large reservoir work involved a comparison of growth, reproduction 
and relative abundance of fishes, plankton production, and fishing 
success in a clear and a turbid reservoir, plus comparisons with 
other reservoir data„ 

4. At the end of two growing seasons, the average total weight of fish 
in clear farm ponds was approximately lo7 times greater than in ponds 
of intermediate turbidity and approximately 5.5 times greater than in 
muddy ponds. Differences were due to faster growths by all species 
and to greater reproduction in clear ponds, particularly by bluegills 
and redear sunfish. 

5. Of the 3 species used in farm ponds, largemouth bass were most affected 
by turbidity in both growth and reproduction. Redear sunfish appeared 
less retarded in growth than did bluegills during the first year, but 
the two sunfishes appeared equally restricted in both growth and 



-57- 



reproduction during the second yearo 

6= Average volume of net plankton in surface waters of clear ponds 
during the 1954 growing season was 8 times greater than in ponds 
having intermediate turbidities; 12o8 times greater than in the 
most turbid ponds „ 

7o In hatchery ponds, high turbidities reduced growth and total yield 
of bass and bluegills but increased channel catfish production. 
Individual catfish grew faster in clear ponds, but muddy ponds 
yielded much greater total weights of channel catfish then either 
clear or intermediate ponds = This was due to a higher rate of 
survival. 

8u The presence of carp caused reduced growth of bass and bluegills 
but ponds with carp produced greater yields of channel catfish and 
young bluegills than ponds without carp= 

9, Sodium silicate proved effective in sustaining hatchery pond turbidities 
Trtien introduced in suspension with finely divided clay, 
10/^ Growths of largemouth bass, white crappies, and channel catfish were 
much slower in turbid Heyburn than in clear Upper Spavinaw Beservoir, 
as well as in all other Oklahoma reservoirs of similar age and size, 
llfl2. Growth of flathead catfish was the most favorable of any Heybum 
species studie^ and i*/f is apparently well adapted to the turbid 
environment. ^ 
12'3. The number of species, as well as individuals, of all scaled fishes 
was low in turbid Heyburn reservoir, apparently due to a lack of 
successful reproduction in the turbid and heavily silted waters and 
due to competition from the better adapted catfishes. 



J/8^' The extreme scarcity of forage species^ partictilarly gizzard shad, 
limited growth and development of bass, crappies, and other carn- 
ivorous sneer- es at Hayburn, ; ^^JK^ )LoA^ ^ y^UL4a.K<.r9^\. ^ 
'1^; " Heybtim largemouth bass and white crappie populations'^exhibited " '-^M. 
unusual dominance by older individuals. This seemed to be due to 
successively smaller year classes as a result of increasing tur- 
bidities, 

l^fr In 1954; the average volume of net plankton in aurfaee waters was . 
13.8 times greater iiv\l ^ pe r Spa Tiaaw than in/^ffeybumv and average 
volume from the 60-foot depth at the clear reservoir was greater 
than the combined total from surface, 15-foot depth, and 30-foot 
depth in the muddy reservoir. This contrast was less marked in 
1955, possibly due to somewhat lower average turbidities at Haybmna-. ^-^«^«AtT^M.^ 

16 1 The clear reservoir attracted more anglers, yielded greater returns 
per unit of fishing effort, as well as more desirable species, and 
was immeasurably more appealing in the aesthetic sense. 



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